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Growing season B continues to make progress, with population movements in certain areas

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • April 2017
Growing season B continues to make progress, with population movements in certain areas

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  • Key Messages
  • CURRENT SITUATION
  • UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS
  • PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2017
  • Key Messages
    • The normal to above-normal levels of rainfall in northwestern areas of the country should help promote normal levels of crop production for growing season B. The normal to below-normal rainfall activity in the rest of the country points to below-normal crop yields for growing season B in these areas.

    • Based on the growing numbers of IDPs in the Kasaï area, jumping from 200,000 to over 600,000 in less than two months, these population movements will likely accelerate during the ongoing growing season. The result will be the abandonment of standing crops, affecting this season’s harvest. 

    • The persistent H5N1 virus in neighboring Uganda has caused all neighboring countries to extend their bans on poultry imports. This is continuing to affect households depending on this source of revenue, namely on the sale of livestock products, forcing them to formulate other coping strategies to deal with this situation.

    • The alarming spread of fall army worm infestations to 50 of the country’s 145 territories points to below-average levels of crop production for growing season B in these areas, with 333,000 hectares of maize crops already affected at the regional level. 


    CURRENT SITUATION

    Agricultural production: The 2017 growing season B got off to a normal start and is well underway in bimodal areas in the eastern part of the country, where it is going normally. Maize, rice, beans, sweet potato, potato, and other food crops are making normal progress, spurred by the normal return of the rains. This will, hopefully, translate into average harvests.

    Unlike the case in growing season A, most farming households in the eastern part of the country are currently busy performing crop maintenance work (weeding, staking, etc.).

    According to assessments by the CAID (the Center for the Analysis of Development Indicators), the army worm, which has already been sighted in several provinces, is present in nearly 30 percent of the country, raising fears of a deficit of anywhere from around five to 20 percent in maize production in affected areas.

    Households in areas with a single growing season (Haut-Katanga and Lualaba) are growing vegetables (tomatoes, amaranth, onions, carrots, cabbage, etc.) in market gardening areas and along the banks of rivers and streams.

    Population movements: The growing numbers of IDPs in parts of the five provinces of the Kasaï region affected by civil security problems have aggravated the situation of households no longer able to pursue their livelihoods, which could mean below-average harvests. There are 600,000 people displaced by the fighting between the regular army and the Kamwina N’sapu militia group.  These populations were unable to begin the 2017 B growing season at the usual time.

    More than 20 percent of the rural population of Tanganyika province displaced by the ethnic fighting between the « Twa » (Pygmies) and the « Luba » (Bantus) are still without access to their fields and, thus, unable to plant crops for the 2017 B growing season.

    The recent ethnic fighting in the Lubero and Beni areas of North Kivu province has created even more IDPs. In addition, the political instability in neighboring countries is producing a continuing flow of new refugees into the DRC from South Sudan, Burundi, and the Central African Republic. Several waves of refugees from South Sudan and the CAR crossed into the Congo in the first quarter of 2017, increasing the number of refugees in the DRC from 451,956 as of December 31, 2016 to 460,923 by February 28, 2017 (according to the UNHCR in the DRC), or by approximately two percent.

    Livestock raising: The swine flu outbreak and pseudo bird flu outbreak affecting poultry flocks, reported in Ubundu territory in Tshopo province during the 2017 A growing season, are continuing to decimate affected animal populations, with households lacking the means to administer effective treatments against these diseases.

    • : Current prices for staple foods on many markets are above-average and still on the rise. According to SNSA (National Agricultural Statistics Service) data for North Kivu, January 2017 prices for maize flour on the Uvira market, for example, were 59 percent above the five-year average and 55 percent higher than at the same time last year.

    Humanitarian assistance: There are continuing deliveries of humanitarian assistance to IDPs, returnees, refugees, and crisis victims by U. N. agencies (the WFP, FAO, UNICEF, UNDP, UN Women, etc.) and national and international NGOs partnering with the government.


    UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS

    The present situation has not affected the assumptions used by FEWS NET as basis for establishing the most likely scenario for the period from February through September 2017. A detailed examination of this scenario can be found in the Food Security Outlook for February through September 2017 posted on the FEWS NET website.


    PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2017

    The lean season in Katanga and Tanganyika provinces and Kibombo, Pangi, Punia, and Lubutu territories in Maniema province in the southeastern part of the country, with smaller than average harvests for the 2017 A growing season, normally runs from April through June and reaches its height at this time of year, until the end of May, when harvests of green crops such as maize, beans, sweet potatoes, etc. will help improve household food consumption. Poor households in these areas are becoming more reliant on temporary employment in farming activities (weeding, ridging, etc.) and will continue to depend on market purchases for more than half their food supplies during this period, with food prices still above the five-year average and figures for the same time last year. The survival strategies implemented by poor households in these areas will continue to increase over the course of the lean season, particularly the selling of capital goods, the withdrawal of children from school, cutbacks in the number of daily meals, the selling of productive assets, and recourse to theft, economic migration, borrowing, and relocation to refugee and/or IDP camps. Thus, in spite of the expected average June harvests for the 2017 B growing season, these areas will continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity.

    The average harvests for the A season in the country’s northeastern provinces  and most parts of South Kivu and North Kivu provinces, with the exception of areas affected by ongoing conflicts and population movements, enabled households to build up food stocks, which they are currently drawing on as their source of food consumption. In spite of the usual lean season and higher market prices for staple foods with the devaluation of the Congolese franc against the U.S. dollar and the infestation of maize crops by army worms, the expected average harvests for the B growing season in June and July 2017 will improve food consumption by poor households. Thus, poor households will maintain their food consumption and experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. However, the 2017 B growing season still in progress has been far from normal for displaced households and host households for IDPs in parts of certain territories (Rutshuru, Masisi, Walikale, Beni, Lubero, Uvira, Fizi, Shabunda, and Kalehe) in these same northeastern provinces and North and South Kivu provinces, where the presence of armed groups and new outbreak of violence and armed conflicts have disrupted local livelihoods. Accordingly, the expected average harvests for the B season in these areas will not significantly affect food consumption by IDPs, who will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security conditions.

    Lastly, the five provinces in the Kasaï region affected by the escalating armed conflicts over the past three months, with a population of more than 600,000 displaced persons, could have smaller than average harvests as a result of the disruption in farming activities for the 2017 B growing season. In fact, many households will be dependent on market purchases between June and September 2017, at a time when there will very likely be a shortage of staple foodstuffs. Food prices will rise against the backdrop of an economic crisis shaped by the sharp depreciation in the value of the Congolese franc against the U.S. dollar. Households will have limited food access, prompting them to resort to increasingly harsh survival strategies. Some parts of these provinces will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security conditions, with others facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) conditions, particularly areas affected by mass population displacements and receiving areas for IDPs.

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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